'Marginally attached' workers to labor force growing

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You learn a lot of new words looking through a federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Along with learning that teenagers are highly unemployed, the recent report describes how "marginally" attached workers to the labor force are faring. Not too well, it turns out.

The national unemployment rate rose to 8.1% in February, and hit blacks and teenagers the worst, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate has risen by 3.3 percentage points.


The demographic with the highest unemployment rate is teenagers at 21.6%, followed by blacks at 13.4%, Hispanics at 10.9%, adult men at 8.1%, whites at 7.3% and adult women at 6.7%.

While the jobless figures are depressing enough, a closer look at the BLS report shows higher numbers of jobless people who aren't counted as unemployed.

The number of people who worked part time for economic reasons, sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers, rose by 787,000 in February to 8.6 million. The number of those workers rose by 3.7 million over the past 12 months.

These are people such as myself who would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or they're unable to find full-time jobs.

Additionally, 2.1 million people were what the BLS calls "marginally" attached to the labor force in February, 466,000 more than a year earlier. They wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job in the prior 12 months. They're counted as unemployed because they hadn't searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 731,000 discouraged workers in February, up by 335,000 from a year earlier, according to the BLS. These are people not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available to them.

The other 1.3 million people marginally attached to the labor force in February hadn't looked for work in the four weeks preceding the survey because they were attending school or had family responsibilities.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net

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